The Acoustic Guitar Forum

Go Back   The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > General Acoustic Guitar Discussion

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #31  
Old 09-01-2017, 06:55 AM
815C's Avatar
815C 815C is offline
AGF Sponsor
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: The Hills Of Tennessee
Posts: 3,515
Default

Here's my story of the only hand made custom I've owned.

My folks had bought a condo in Fallbrook, CA and I went to see it. They said, "Hey, our neighbor a few doors down builds guitars - you should go meet him." So I walked over and knocked on his door. It was John Kinnard (the west coast John Kinnard - not John Kinnaird on the other side of the county).

As I walked over to his door I had this strong unexplainable feeling in my gut that he was going to give me a guitar. I knocked and he answered. He was a very friendly guy, an ex-hippy who makes jewelry and guitars and who is a pretty good painter. He had also worked at Taylor guitars at some point.

He invited me and let me play the guitars in his place and they were awesome. After awhile he said, "Hey, if I built you a guitar would you play it?" I answered, "Yeah! But I don't have the budget" He said not to worry about it.

Six months later I had this guitar. My first impression was that it sounded beautiful, and that passages that had been challenging for me to play on my Taylor 810 seemed to glide easily under my fingers on this guitar. It's absolutely wonderful and I'll never sell it.


Last edited by 815C; 09-01-2017 at 08:28 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 09-01-2017, 07:37 AM
Misifus Misifus is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Mineral Wells, Texas
Posts: 2,201
Default

On the subject of not being able to play before you buy, or being disappointed in what you get. Obviously, this requires a leap of faith, but you can hedge your bet.

I know quite a few "luthiers", here in Texas, but two spring to mind in this context. One, whom I won't name, is a fine fellow who makes nice guitars, but he hasn't a clue about what makes a guitar sound a certain way, and he admits this. He says that if you play a guitar of his that you like, buy it, because he couldn't build another one to sound the same. Once, I played two guitars he made from the same woods the same size, identical! Except for the sound. They sounded nothing alike. I would not commission an instrument from him.

When I commissioned Jamie Kinscherff to build a guitar, I had heard and played more than a dozen of his guitars in various woods and sizes. All were outstanding, and all bore a similarity in sound - call it the Kinscherff sound. I knew, going in, pretty much what my finished guitar would sound like, and it did. It wasn't a crap shoot. We have all found similar consistencies in other small builders. That's how we can buy with confidence, before playing.
__________________
-Raf
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 09-01-2017, 07:41 AM
s2y s2y is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Somewhere middle America
Posts: 4,210
Default

I have been playing handmade instruments almost exclusively for about 15 years. There are a lot of nice stock instruments these days, but sometimes ya need specs tweaked.

The key is knowing EXACTLY what you want and how to communicate that to the builder. People who hate the idea of custom guitars probably got their specs wrong, changed their flavor of the week tone, etc.
__________________
Acoustic gear:
KR fanned 7 string
Greg German DB7
Limited Edition walnut Taylor 12 fret non-cutaway ES2
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 09-01-2017, 07:44 AM
AndrewG AndrewG is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Exeter, UK
Posts: 4,552
Wink

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisE View Post
I've toured the Martin factory and saw a lot of human hands making guitars. Of course they had help from a lot of lasers and robot hands.

Back to the topic, I've never played a custom hand-built small shop guitar and I honestly don't think my ears and skills are such that I could even tell a difference between it and a mass-produced guitar like Taylor or Martin.

Which brings me to another question--I see all the time on the guitar forums "Never buy a guitar without playing it first." How does that apply to custom guitars?
From my perspective buying an unplayed custom build is no different from any other guitar bought unseen, unplayed. Not something I will ever consider again-there are just too many variables and unknowns. Bottom line; there is NO guarantee that what you hear in your head will translate to the finished product. Want to gamble several thousand; be my guest!
__________________
Yamaha LL16 A.R.E.
Alvarez AP70
Harley Benton CF200WN
D'Angelico Excel DC, Fret King Super 60SP.
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 09-01-2017, 07:56 AM
s2y s2y is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Somewhere middle America
Posts: 4,210
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by AndrewG View Post
From my perspective buying an unplayed custom build is no different from any other guitar bought unseen, unplayed. Not something I will ever consider again-there are just too many variables and unknowns. Bottom line; there is NO guarantee that what you hear in your head will translate to the finished product. Want to gamble several thousand; be my guest!
It's really not that risky when you're using established formulas. Also, when guitars sound "different" why is "different almost always assumed to be worse?
__________________
Acoustic gear:
KR fanned 7 string
Greg German DB7
Limited Edition walnut Taylor 12 fret non-cutaway ES2
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 09-01-2017, 08:06 AM
AndrewG AndrewG is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Exeter, UK
Posts: 4,552
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by s2y View Post
I have been playing handmade instruments almost exclusively for about 15 years. There are a lot of nice stock instruments these days, but sometimes ya need specs tweaked.

The key is knowing EXACTLY what you want and how to communicate that to the builder. People who hate the idea of custom guitars probably got their specs wrong, changed their flavor of the week tone, etc.
You can be as exact as you want; unfortunately wood is unpredictable stuff and doesn't always want to respect your exacting demands.
__________________
Yamaha LL16 A.R.E.
Alvarez AP70
Harley Benton CF200WN
D'Angelico Excel DC, Fret King Super 60SP.
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 09-01-2017, 08:12 AM
AndrewG AndrewG is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Exeter, UK
Posts: 4,552
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by s2y View Post
It's really not that risky when you're using established formulas. Also, when guitars sound "different" why is "different almost always assumed to be worse?
For me it is a risk; I'm very finicky when it comes to tone and taking a gamble isn't my thing at all. 'Good enough' isn't good enough. It has to be RIGHT. 'Different' is fine, but what appeals to you is unlikely to appeal to me. Yes, there are established formulae, but why then will one D-18 (for example), sound spectacular while the next one on the wall sounds average at best? It happens all the time, and custom builds are no different in that regard.
__________________
Yamaha LL16 A.R.E.
Alvarez AP70
Harley Benton CF200WN
D'Angelico Excel DC, Fret King Super 60SP.
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 09-01-2017, 08:13 AM
jaymarsch jaymarsch is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: North of the Golden Gate, South of the Redwoods, East of the Pacific and West of the Sierras
Posts: 4,618
Default

I remember my first Healdsburg guitar festival and trying out various guitars. I did not know the names of builders back then and who was considered good. A guitar at a table that was not very crowded caught my eye. It was stunning visually. I asked if I could play it. The tone and feel of that instrument was amazing. I had played over a hundred guitars and had never had such a complete experience of sound and feel. Turned out it was built by Jim Olson and was the most expensive guitar in the show that year. What a beauty.

A few tables later, I played a guitar by Kathy Wingert and was also wowed and her work at that time was surprisingly within my budget. I did custom order a guitar from Kathy and had a fabulous experience. Memorable experiences for sure.

Since then I have had the pleasure of playing a number of small shop guitars that have been a real joy to experience.

Best,
Jayne
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 09-01-2017, 08:31 AM
slimey slimey is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 1,127
Default

For me sitting down to play a wonderfully built handmade guitar is about appreciating the art of the construction, admiring the wood finish, the Lacquer or polish finishing.
It's the live feel of the instrument, the resonant notes. The tone.
If you know what builders have the tone you like in what model, chances are very high when that instrument arrives it'll be there.
I've played some nice Martins, Gibsons etc but for my ear custom builds which are often refined copies of their designs, tend to be a little MORE of everything the original didn't quite achieve.
__________________
Steve
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 09-01-2017, 08:31 AM
jab.phila jab.phila is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 20
Default

Thanks for jumping in on this thread everyone, though not always so gently... Appreciate starting closer to the deep end.

Some other thoughts on handmade v. factory made:

-This isn't about price. Northwoods cost what a 500-series Taylor costs. Custom Circas cost what custom Martins cost.

-Used handmade guitars seem like a completely different market than new customs. I can't handle the seemingly 30-50% higher price for a new custom v. that same guitar on the used market. I can't handle more than one guitar! I don't begrudge those who can make that custom experience a reality or build out big or small collections.

-I don't dispute that there are very skilled hands that make amazing guitars in a factory setting. Luthiers work solo, in small shops and in factories. If using "handmade" doesn't distinguish, what term does? How would you differentiate between the setting for a Larrivee and a Northwood if not calling it factory or handmade? I love both, but they are different.

-I was a little taken aback upon first reading Ervin Somogyi reference, "It's been pointed out that comparing a handmade guitar to a factory made one is like comparing a painting to a toaster." (Fingerstyle Guitar, #43, 2001). It sounded so haughty. Now, I don't know so much. They feel different to me.

Keep the conversation going if you're interested. Thanks for jumping on this first thread!
Reply With Quote
  #41  
Old 09-01-2017, 11:57 AM
El Conquistador's Avatar
El Conquistador El Conquistador is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Central California
Posts: 3,793
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by jab.phila View Post
What was it like the first time you played or owned a handmade guitar? What was the guitar? How did it change your playing or how you thought about guitars? I wouldn't be on the AGF if my first time didn't change the way I thought about guitars.
So, a first thread about your first time.
Jake
Here is my story. Upon my Mother's passing, my siblings and I came into a little money. My brother bought a set of custom golf clubs, my sister a new car. I had been playing the same '69 Guild D50 for 40 years and so thought my Mother would approve of me buying a new guitar.

So I began visiting guitar stores every time I came across one. I played everything, Martin, Gibson, Taylor. I even played one Martin D45 at a high end GS that was marked at $8,000. But, alas, after nearly 2 years of searching, I simply could not find a guitar that sounded or played significantly better than my trusty Guild so I decided to abandon my quest.

Then one day I was at my local guitar tech's shop and he put a copy of Acoustic Guitar magazine in my hand. From the very first page I was amazed at what was out there, particularly the ads in the back for solo shop guitars. Also in this issue was an advert for something called The Healdsburg Guitar Festival. It was only 2 weeks away and about 4 hours driving time for me. I decided I would give it one more try and attend the show.

From the very first booth just inside the door to the very last booth, I experienced guitars that I didn't know even could exist. All were significantly superior to my D50, and any other factory built guitar I had every played. I turned a corner and ran smack into the most beautiful guitar I had every seen or even imagined. I asked Mike Baranik to play it, took it outside, and at the first Emaj chord, the angles sang. I was overwhelmed by the tone. And, I mean overwhelmed. I took it back in and asked the guy behind the booth how much, and, I bought it on the spot:




People often ask me how I justify the amount of money I paid for this guitar. First I tell them that most of my friends spend more than I did on golf, or skiing, fishing, antique cars etc.. But, the ultimate justification for me , the whole reason I am still playing at my advance age is that, every once in a while, I get into a zone where I and my guitar become as one and I become an audience for myself marveling at the sound and my playing. It is those moments that keep me playing. Simply put, since I bought my Baranik, that happens WAY more often.

Steve
__________________
Still crazy after all these years.
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 09-01-2017, 12:05 PM
1Charlie 1Charlie is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Charlottesville, VA
Posts: 770
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by El Conquistador View Post
Here is my story. Upon my Mother's passing, my siblings and I came into a little money. My brother bought a set of custom golf clubs, my sister a new car. I had been playing the same '69 Guild D50 for 40 years and so thought my Mother would approve of me buying a new guitar.

So I began visiting guitar stores every time I came across one. I played everything, Martin, Gibson, Taylor. I even played one Martin D45 at a high end GS that was marked at $8,000. But, alas, after nearly 2 years of searching, I simply could not find a guitar that sounded or played significantly better than my trusty Guild so I decided to abandon my quest.

Then one day I was at my local guitar tech's shop and he put a copy of Acoustic Guitar magazine in my hand. From the very first page I was amazed at what was out there, particularly the ads in the back for solo shop guitars. Also in this issue was an advert for something called The Healdsburg Guitar Festival. It was only 2 weeks away and about 4 hours driving time for me. I decided I would give it one more try and attend the show.

From the very first booth just inside the door to the very last booth, I experienced guitars that I didn't know even could exist. All were significantly superior to my D50, and any other factory built guitar I had every played. I turned a corner and ran smack into the most beautiful guitar I had every seen or even imagined. I asked Mike Baranik to play it, took it outside, and at the first Emaj chord, the angles sang. I was overwhelmed by the tone. And, I mean overwhelmed. I took it back in and asked the guy behind the booth how much, and, I bought it on the spot:




People often ask me how I justify the amount of money I paid for this guitar. First I tell them that most of my friends spend more than I did on golf, or skiing, fishing, antique cars etc.. But, the ultimate justification for me , the whole reason I am still playing at my advance age is that, every once in a while, I get into a zone where I and my guitar become as one and I become an audience for myself marveling at the sound and my playing. It is those moments that keep me playing. Simply put, since I bought my Baranik, that happens WAY more often.

Steve
Nice story. Also a real testament to the old Guild D-50. Hope you held onto it.
__________________
Neal

A few nice ones, a few beaters, and a few I should probably sell...
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 09-01-2017, 12:16 PM
MojoRisin MojoRisin is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 84
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by 815C View Post
Here's my story of the only hand made custom I've owned.

My folks had bought a condo in Fallbrook, CA and I went to see it. They said, "Hey, our neighbor a few doors down builds guitars - you should go meet him." So I walked over and knocked on his door. It was John Kinnard (the west coast John Kinnard - not John Kinnaird on the other side of the county).

As I walked over to his door I had this strong unexplainable feeling in my gut that he was going to give me a guitar. I knocked and he answered. He was a very friendly guy, an ex-hippy who makes jewelry and guitars and who is a pretty good painter. He had also worked at Taylor guitars at some point.

He invited me and let me play the guitars in his place and they were awesome. After awhile he said, "Hey, if I built you a guitar would you play it?" I answered, "Yeah! But I don't have the budget" He said not to worry about it.

Six months later I had this guitar. My first impression was that it sounded beautiful, and that passages that had been challenging for me to play on my Taylor 810 seemed to glide easily under my fingers on this guitar. It's absolutely wonderful and I'll never sell it.

Hey, what's his address? I'd like to go pay him a visit too.
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 09-01-2017, 12:32 PM
s2y s2y is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Somewhere middle America
Posts: 4,210
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by AndrewG View Post
For me it is a risk; I'm very finicky when it comes to tone and taking a gamble isn't my thing at all. 'Good enough' isn't good enough. It has to be RIGHT. 'Different' is fine, but what appeals to you is unlikely to appeal to me. Yes, there are established formulae, but why then will one D-18 (for example), sound spectacular while the next one on the wall sounds average at best? It happens all the time, and custom builds are no different in that regard.
Why are so many guys in the custom sub-forum so happy with their stuff?
__________________
Acoustic gear:
KR fanned 7 string
Greg German DB7
Limited Edition walnut Taylor 12 fret non-cutaway ES2
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old 09-01-2017, 01:03 PM
sakar12 sakar12 is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Utah
Posts: 224
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by El Conquistador View Post
Here is my story. Upon my Mother's passing, my siblings and I came into a little money. My brother bought a set of custom golf clubs, my sister a new car. I had been playing the same '69 Guild D50 for 40 years and so thought my Mother would approve of me buying a new guitar.

So I began visiting guitar stores every time I came across one. I played everything, Martin, Gibson, Taylor. I even played one Martin D45 at a high end GS that was marked at $8,000. But, alas, after nearly 2 years of searching, I simply could not find a guitar that sounded or played significantly better than my trusty Guild so I decided to abandon my quest.

Then one day I was at my local guitar tech's shop and he put a copy of Acoustic Guitar magazine in my hand. From the very first page I was amazed at what was out there, particularly the ads in the back for solo shop guitars. Also in this issue was an advert for something called The Healdsburg Guitar Festival. It was only 2 weeks away and about 4 hours driving time for me. I decided I would give it one more try and attend the show.

From the very first booth just inside the door to the very last booth, I experienced guitars that I didn't know even could exist. All were significantly superior to my D50, and any other factory built guitar I had every played. I turned a corner and ran smack into the most beautiful guitar I had every seen or even imagined. I asked Mike Baranik to play it, took it outside, and at the first Emaj chord, the angles sang. I was overwhelmed by the tone. And, I mean overwhelmed. I took it back in and asked the guy behind the booth how much, and, I bought it on the spot:




People often ask me how I justify the amount of money I paid for this guitar. First I tell them that most of my friends spend more than I did on golf, or skiing, fishing, antique cars etc.. But, the ultimate justification for me , the whole reason I am still playing at my advance age is that, every once in a while, I get into a zone where I and my guitar become as one and I become an audience for myself marveling at the sound and my playing. It is those moments that keep me playing. Simply put, since I bought my Baranik, that happens WAY more often.

Steve
That's a great story, and how I've felt about my Martin from time to time. I never felt that way about the other "nice" guitar I owned, so I sold it earlier this summer and ordered a Lowden Sitka / Cocobolo that should be finished this month. It's not a custom build, but since it's a lefty I had to order it / buy sight unseen and wait for it to finish, and since Lowden is a "small shop" that produces in a year what some of the bigger factories churn out in a day (George's words), it feels kinda like a custom.

Here's hoping it's a great guitar.

And I imagine it will be, but I also imagine I'll have a little confirmation bias since I'm taking a leap of faith, have spent a decent chunk of change, and have waited longer than I'm used to. We'll see.
__________________
2016 Martin D-18 GE
2017 Lowden F35 Sitka / Cocobolo
2015 Teton 105 something (Cedar / hog laminate)
All lefties
Reply With Quote
Reply

  The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > General Acoustic Guitar Discussion

Tags
larrivee, northwood

Thread Tools



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:26 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, The Acoustic Guitar Forum
vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=